A Sussex pharmaceutical company has told how it had to bundle a production line into a white van and take it to Amsterdam to beat the UK leaving the EU Single Market and Customs Union.
The company said they had been preparing for Brexit since the referendum but had not counted on an overnight block on wholesale distribution from the UK into EU member states.
“So our production manager hired a van and took five machines – which was essentially one production line – to the Netherlands. He got the line up and running. We’ve rented an apartment and got six people working over there now. And so far we’ve hired 15 people in the Netherlands and they want another 10 or 11.”
In a blow to the British company, production lines in Littlehampton are now at near standstill while assembly ramps up in the Netherlands. Further expansion will take place in Spain and other EU countries.
“To put things into context we usually receive around 75 pallets of stock a week – in January we have received two,” Cooke said.
The company hoped over time to replace the EU sales with UK custom, it had been heartbreaking to have to slash production and work hours for staff in the UK. “I’ve got about 70 people at the moment who I’ve had to ask to half their hours,” she said. “It has been horrible, absolutely horrible.”
Other companies have also been hit by sudden trade barriers. Two weeks ago it emerged that a Welsh pharma company producing a cancer drug with a short shelf life had moved its production to Dublin to keep supplies going for patients across the EU.